In a valley in the south of Ecuador, 2060 metre above sea level, is Montecristi. Montecristi is known as the Music and Cultural capital, given its vast history and a rich tradition of arts. Elevated above the city, in the lush Andean mountainside landscape, is the site where a new community will rise. Paul Raff Studio was commissioned to masterplan a sustainable community, nestled amidst the cloud forest and jungle, which will focus on health and wellness. A key focus for the masterplan was to create a pedestrian-oriented network of paths to increase the sense of community, and decrease the reliance on vehicles while bearing a light environmental impact.

One thousand residential units were mixed between single-family dwellings and townhouses with moderate density. Ancillary programme consisted of a central hotel facility, a gym, spa, theatre, restaurants and cafés, community gardens, an organic produce market, a helicopter pad and a medical clinic with long-term care facilities.

The development is organized around an existing central collector road that ascends the mountainside. As part of the masterplan, dedicated pedestrian and cycling lanes were added along the existing tree-lined arterial spine to reinforce a dedication to health and wellness. 

Following the contours of the mountainside, narrow new roads wind through the site and connect residential units to the central spine and the central plaza. Located to exploit the breathtaking panoramic views, the plaza is the heart of the development with the hotel and spa facility wrapped around it. A careful study of the site’s topography and views defined the placement and orientation of the residences and affords each unit with a stunning mountain vista.

Combining the tactility and beauty of local materials and crafts with principles of sustainable urban development, Green Living Ecuador is a model for providing development in a sensitive ecosystem.